After a successful launch last week, SpaceX is once again on track with sending rockets up in space. And one of its latest plans? To relaunch an already used Falcon 9 rocket.
SpaceX had some unfortunate times last year. In November 2016, one of the company’s rockets exploded. The explosion took place during takeoff tests. And it ground the rest of the company’s rockets. SpaceX put a stop to its space program until it found the exact cause.
And last week saw its first successful launch. January 14, 2017, marked the company’s return. Last Saturday, a Falcon 9 rocket took off from California. Its target was to deploy 10 Iridium NEXT satellites.
As the first mission was a success, SpaceX turned its attention to new ones. The company has set January 30 as its next launch date.
Still, the space company has other grand plans as well. SpaceX is reportedly thinking about relaunching an already used Falcon 9. More exactly, the rocket has already taken a trip into the outer space.
SpaceX would be a pioneer in the area if it continues with its plans. And quite a few experts consider it a possible alternative. However, they also raise a question. Could such a project be sustainable?
Reports offer various answers to this question. Sending an already used Falcon 9 rocket into space would have its advantages. For example, it could help diminish costs. A mission’s financial costs could be greatly diminished. Not all of the involved spacecraft would have to be newly built.
Both space exploration and agencies could be advantaged by such a fact. Still, some doubt its usefulness. They are interested in the potential relaunch of the already used Falcon 9 boosters. These 7 boosters already took part in a Falcon 9 mission.
This group of skeptical scientists is waiting for a potential takeoff. They are looking forward to analyzing its results.
Ben Goldberg also released a statement on the matter. He is the Orbital ATK director of technology. According to him, this reuse is not necessarily riskier. Neither is it less risky. He pointed out a generally applicable truth. Every first time will have some unknown elements.
He considers that the relaunch might have some such factors. And they may turn into risks. But it will also offer a new lesson.
Orbital ATK is, in a way, SpaceX’s rival. They are also in the space vehicle development area. Still, the two companies have also collaborated in the past.
SpaceX’s experiment could be an almost full first time. No other company tried the relaunch of already used rockets. Some have re-used a space shuttle. But it was the shuttle itself, and perhaps some booster. Other previous attempts are even more limited. And also non-conclusive.
SpaceX has been considering this course of action for some time. Last year, the company president discussed the variant. Gwynne Shotwell stated that it could make an immense financial difference.
One that could help space agencies better distribute their budgets. Still, there are also facing another option. That a re-utilization of an already used Falcon 9 rocket will not result in financial savings. It remains to be seen if the company will decide to experiment in the area.
For the moment, experts are waiting for SpaceX’s next launch on January 30.
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